The festive period is often a time where we relax, socialise and spend time with families. Unfortunately this wasn't quite the case for me. Having spent a big year on the bike (see below stats from veloviewer)
As you can see from the stats above it's been a big year. Lots of crazy challenges and experiences. Sadly towards the end of the year I started to feel unwell. The amount I was getting out on the bike started to drop off as well. After a visit to the doctors we found out I had a mild case of blood poisoning and more worryingly, a bad case of shingles.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
It's estimated around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox.
New blisters may appear for up to a week, but a few days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out.
Scabs then form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring and loss of skin pigment.
The pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation, and its intensity can vary from mild to severe.
You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time, and the affected area of skin will usually be tender.
In some cases shingles may cause some early symptoms that develop a few days before the painful rash first appears.
These early symptoms can include:
- a headache
- burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area
- a feeling of being generally unwell
- a high temperature (fever)
An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks. It usually affects a specific area on just one side of the body.
It doesn't cross over the midline of the body, an imaginary line running from between your eyes down past the belly button.
Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, but the chest and tummy (abdomen) are the most common areas.
It is an incredibly frustrating and painful virus that causes you to basically be bed bound. The thing I have found tough is the fatigue. The pain is bad but continually needing to sleep shows how it is tough. I have spoken with the likes of Dean Downing who has suffered from it before. Dean's advice was:
'Don’t mess around with shingles. If you don’t rest and if you come back too soon. It will ruin you for a long long time.'
Dean had it when he lived in Belgium. 2002 winter at the end of January. In his own words it was caused by too much training, too much stress and too much partying. He was with a doctor, 3 months off and on May 1st started riding and training from scratch. Later that year he won British Crit Champs in September.
Here is how my training has looked over the last few weeks. Very few rides just to keep the legs going. These are low zone rides and generally done inside. I have been very lucky to have the support of my coach, Ken and nutritionalist Will Girling to help try to aid recovery as quickly as possible. Will is the nutritionalist for Pro cycling team ONE PRO
It's amazing having support from people like Dean, a true British Cycling great looking out and keeping an eye out for me. The recovery will be slow and long but I'll get there!
Here's to 2018!